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Canadian CEOs economic outlook more pessimistic than global peers, but generative AI provides opportunity for reinvention, says PwC CEO Survey
[January 30, 2024]

Canadian CEOs economic outlook more pessimistic than global peers, but generative AI provides opportunity for reinvention, says PwC CEO Survey

  • 55% of Canadian CEOs expect domestic economic growth will decline this year, still relatively pessimistic when compared to their global peers' economic outlook 
  • 36% of Canadian CEOs say their organization has adopted generative AI, compared to 32% of global participants
  • 29% of Canadian CEOs believe that generative AI will increase their revenue in next 12 months

TORONTO, Jan. 30, 2024 /CNW/ - Canadian CEOs are significantly more pessimistic than their global counterparts, according to PwC's 27th Annual Global CEO Survey. 55% of Canadian CEOs expect domestic economic growth will decline this year, still relatively pessimistic when compared to 37% of global CEOs who expect economic growth in their country to decline.  

The survey, which interviewed 4,702 CEOs across 105 countries and territories including 114 in Canada, explored the growing need for CEOs to reinvent their organizations and the results reveal opportunities to accelerate the pace of reinvention, leverage generative AI, and overcome barriers to change.

"We are operating in a continued poly-crisis environment, further complicated by tough economic headwinds. Therefore, it is not surprising that Canadian CEOs are more pessimistic than their global counterparts, when it comes to their outlook on economic growth," said Nicolas Marcoux, CEO, PwC Canada. "While a soft recessionary landing maybe anticipated, CEOs find themselves under increasing pressure to reinvent their organizations."

The AI opportunity

More Canadian CEOs than global CEOs have already started adopting Generative AI technology – 36% in Canada vs 32% globally. Significantly, for employees in Canada who are eyeing the technology with some trepidation, only 14% of Canadian CEOs believe it will decrease their headcount in the next 12 months – considerably lower than global respondents, at 25%.

Canadian CEOs say they expect to see quick adoption of Generative AI given the improvements it can make to an organization. Nearly 60% believe it will significantly change the way their company creates, delivers, and captures value in the years to come and 29% of Canadian CEOs believe it will increase revenue in the next 12 months. However, Canadian CEOs also belive that AI will increase risk within their business related to cybersecurity (66%), misinformation (52%), legal liabilities and reputational risks (47%), and more than half (55%) agree that AI will require significant upskilling of their workforce in the next three years.

"It is clear that Canadian CEOs are embracing new technologies such as generative AI and see real potential in terms of supporting their workforce and growing revenue. However, it will be important to close the skills gap so that companies can leverage AI to its fullest potential, while ensuring that employees do their part in mitigating the increased risks," said Marcoux.

The reinvention imperative

The survey found that 32% of Canadian CEOs are questioning whether their organization will still be viable in 10 years - up from only 24% in 2023. While more Canadian CEOs appear pessimistic about their organization's future, they are still more optimistic than their global peers (45%). Importantly, and in line with global peers, almost all (95%) Canadian CEOs reported that they have taken some steps to change how they create, deliver and capture value in the last five years.

When asked about barriers holding a company back from reinvention, Canadian CEOs pointed to organizational inefficiencies as a significant concern. CEOs suggested that approximately half the time spent by the company on emails (51%), performance reviews (50%), procurement/contracting (45%), and addressing tech issues (46%) is inefficient.

"Canadian CEOs need to stay ahead of global trends and emerging risks – like geopolitical conflict, macroeconomic volatility, inflation and cyberattacks – as they are increasingly interconnected. Those who do so will be better equipped to accelerate change and reinvent their organizations to be sustainable in the future," concluded Marcoux.

Opportunities for Reinvention
  1. Reducing inefficiencies with the help of AI: Reduce inefficiencies that are weighing your organization down with investments in technologies like generative AI.

  2. Engage with employees about reinvention: By giving employees an active role in reinvention and helping them feel safe and proposing new ways of doing things, CEOs can not only uncover opportunities to accelerate technological adoption but also find even more solutions to the inefficient processes holding companies back. 

  3. Anticipating emerging risks: By anticipating emerging risks and spotting hazards early on, CEOs can take the necessary steps to address the challenges facing the organization.
About the 27th Annual PwC Global CEO Survey:

PwC surveyed 4,702 CEOs across 105 countries and territories from 2 October through 10 November 2023. The global and regional figures are weighted proportionally to country nominal GDP. The industry and country-level figures are based on unweighted data from the full sample of 4,702 CEOs. The full findings can be accessed here.

About PwC Canada:

At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. More than 9,000 partners and staff in offices across the country are committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax, consulting, and deals services. PwC refers to the Canadian member firm and may sometimes refer to the PwC network. Each member firm is a separate legal entity. Please see for further details. Find out more by visiting us at: 

SOURCE PwC Management Services LP

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